The princes who stood at the head of the allied armies were, of course, the objects of the most ardent enthusiasm of the royalist ladies; but it was, above all, with them that they found the least encouragement. The Emperor of Austria was too much occupied with the future of his daughter and grandson, and the King of Prussia was too grave and severe, to find any pleasure in the coquetries of women. The young Emperor Alexander of Russia, therefore, became the chief object of their enthusiasm and love. But their enthusiasm also met with a poor recompense in this quarter. Almost distrustfully, the czar held himself aloof from the ladies of the Faubourg St. Germain; and yet it was they who had decided the fate of France with him, and induced him to give his vote for the Bourbons; for until then it had remained undetermined whom the allies should call to the throne of France.
In his inmost heart, the Emperor of Russia desired to see the universally-beloved Viceroy of Italy, Eugene Beauharnais, elevated to the vacant throne. The letter with which Eugene replied to the proposition of the allies, tendering him the ducal crown of Genoa, had won for Josephine’s son the love and esteem of the czar for all time. Alexander had himself written to Eugene, and proffered him, in the name of the allies, a duchy of Genoa, if he would desert Napoleon, and take sides with the allies. Eugene Beauharnais had replied to him in the following letter:
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“SIRE,—I have received your majesty’s propositions. They are undoubtedly very favorable, but they are powerless to change my resolution. I must have known how to express my thoughts but poorly when I had the honor of seeing you, if your majesty can believe that I could sully my honor for any, even the highest, reward. Neither the prospect of possessing the crown of the duchy of Genoa, nor that of the kingdom of Italy, can induce me to become a traitor. The example of the King of Naples cannot mislead me; I will rather be a plain soldier than a traitorous prince.
“The emperor, you say, has done me injustice; I have forgotten it; I only remember his benefits. I owe all to him—my rank, my titles, and my fortune, and I owe to him that which I prefer to all else—that which your indulgence calls my renown. I shall, therefore, serve him as long as I live; my person is his, as is my heart. May my sword break in my hands, if it could ever turn against the emperor, or against France! I trust that my well-grounded refusal will at least secure to me the respect of your imperial majesty. I am, etc.”
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The Emperor of Austria, on the other hand, ardently desired to secure the throne of France to his grandson, the King of Rome, under the regency of the Empress Marie Louise; but he did not venture to make this demand openly and without reservation of his allies, whose action he had promised to approve and ratify. The appeals of the Duke of Cadore, who had been sent to her father by Marie Louise from Blois, urging the emperor to look after her interests, and to demand of the allies that they should assure the crown to herself and son, were, therefore, fruitless.